Zags get rematch with much-improved Ohio State

When Ohio State and Gonzaga met in the PK80 Tournament early this season, it was the Buckeye’s fifth game under new head coach Chris Holtmann. The Bulldogs walked away with a lopsided scoreboard, but Ohio State says they’re a completely different team.

It’s no surprise, any team that has more games under their belt is generally going to improve throughout the season. But since the two met, Holtmann was awarded the Big 10 Coach of the Year, and junior forward Keita Bates-Diop’s level of play sky-rocketed, becoming the Big 10 Player of the Year.

Andrew Dakich: “Obviously, they completely man-handled us I think it was a 27-point blowout it wasn’t even close, it felt worse than that. But you know that was the stretch where we were trying to form our own identity.”

Keita Bates-Diop: “Our team chemistry is a lot better since November, like I said earlier that was like our fifth or sixth game, new coaching staff and a bunch of new players, so it was just time we needed to get to know each other.”

Silas Melson: “I mean certainly, we’re expecting a fight just because last time we beat them, we beat them pretty bad and any competitor is going to keep that in the back of their mind and think when we play them again they’re going to come out with a chip on their shoulder.”

Josh Perkins: “Familiar feeling beating them before, but like I said they’re going to come out hungry with that revenge factor, but we gotta put it behind us, it’s a different time, different game and more stakes at hand.”

Tip-off is Saturday at 4:45 pm PT.